Boston is in the driver's seat to win its second straight division title, but a loss by the defending Stanley Cup champions tonight to Tampa Bay would certainly add some unneeded pressure to the mix.
The Bruins aim for a third straight victory as they host the Lightning and NHL goal-scoring leader Steven Stamkos.
An up-and-down team for most of the season, Boston enters action tonight three points ahead of second-place Ottawa in the Northeast Division. The Senators are off this evening after a win over the Jets on Monday and the Bruins have two games in hand over the Sens.
The Bruins picked up their fourth victory in five games on Sunday, slipping past the Ducks 3-2. Momentum seemed to swing in Boston's favor after Anaheim had a game-tying goal disallowed in the third period due to skater interference on Anaheim's Andrew Cogliano. Brian Rolston scored Boston's third goal minutes later and Marty Turco ended with 25 saves for his first victory in the NHL in over a year.
"It was the right call," said Turco, who was picked up by Boston earlier this month and earned his first win since Feb. 1, 2011 with Chicago.
"If he was just inside the paint and not anywhere near me, it might have been different. He was at least halfway in [the crease]. ... It's good to get one going your way."
Rolston has points in six straight games, notching three goals and eight assists over that span, while Chris Kelly ended with two assists to give him seven points in his past five games. Zdeno Chara and Benoit Pouliot also scored for the second-seeded Bruins.
The Lightning are ranked 11th in the Eastern Conference standings with 77 points, seven behind the Capitals and Sabres for the eighth spot. Tampa Bay does have a game in hand over both clubs, who battle tonight in Buffalo, and won its third straight game last night.
Stamkos notched his 53rd goal, a single-season club record for the Lightning, and Martin St. Louis added a goal and an assist in a 5-3 victory at Philadelphia. St. Louis scored the first of three third-period goals, with J.T. Wyman and Tom Pyatt (empty net) also scoring in the frame.
"He's there for the big moments, and that's a big moment to start the period," said Tampa head coach Guy Boucher about St. Louis. "Last game was the same thing. We were great in the first, we were bad in the second, we were great in the third, and we came back in the third and won the game. Today we wanted to make sure we came back strong in the third period and he led the way."
Ryan Malone also tallied and Dwayne Roloson made 35 saves for the Lightning, who had lost six of seven prior to their three-game win streak.
While Pyatt scored his fourth goal in three games, Stamkos broke Vincent Lecavalier's club record of 52 goals scored during the 2006-07 season. Stamkos owns a seven-goal lead over Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin for the most in the NHL.
Speaking of Lecavalier, he is close to returning from a broken right hand that has kept him on the sidelines since Feb. 18. He is expected to return some time during Tampa Bay's three-game road trip, which began last night and concludes on Thursday in New Jersey.
The Lightning posted a 6-1 home win in the most recent meeting with the Bruins on March 13, their second straight victory in this series. Stamkos scored his 49th and 50th goals of the season in the win, while Turco allowed four goals on 12 shots faced and was temporarily replaced by Tim Thomas, who allowed two goals on five shots.
Tampa Bay hasn't won a season series versus the Bruins since 2003-04 and has lost three straight and nine of its past 11 in Boston, where it has won just three times in its past 33 visits.